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Adele Balasingham - Women Fighters of Liberation Tigers [1993]

Adele Balasingham - Women Fighters of Liberation Tigers [1993]

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Published by Miyamoto-Ninja
Women Fighters of Liberation Tigers
Adele Ann Balasingham (Adele Ann Wilby), 1993
Thasan Printers, Mahendra Veethy, Jaffna, Tamil Eelam
Women Fighters of Liberation Tigers
Adele Ann Balasingham (Adele Ann Wilby), 1993
Thasan Printers, Mahendra Veethy, Jaffna, Tamil Eelam

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Published by: Miyamoto-Ninja on Nov 08, 2011
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Women Fighters of Liberation Tigers
Introduction:Over the past eight years Tamil women have made an enormous leap in the mode and depthof their participation in the nation’s struggle for self- determination. They have moved fromnon-violent politics into armed struggle. The history of Tamil women in the armed strugglefor national liberation waged by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam constitutes both anextension of women’s participation in the national struggle and a history of its own.Subsequently the women fighters of the Liberation Tigers have earned an internationalreputation as the most fierce, highly disciplined and courageous women combatants the worldhas ever produced. Constituted as a fully fledged military force and structured within theoverall organisation of the LTTE, these young women fighters have carried out extra-ordinarymilitary feats in their struggle for the freedom of their homeland.Women’s entry into the armed struggle is the inevitable extension of their long contribution tonational political campaigns against State oppression. However, their involvement inParliamentary politics and non-violent campaigns did not radically change the cultural imagesof women. Parliamentary politics and non-violent struggle remain within the acceptable do-main of women’s behaviour. The history of women in combat in the armed struggle is achronicle of a fundamentally different order. Women in combat belong to a totally new world,a world outside a normal woman’s life. And that is what makes these women fighters so
interesting and admirable. They have taken up a life that bears little resemblance at all to theordinary existence of women. Training and carrying weapons, confronting battle conditions,enduring the constant emotional strain of losing close associates, facing death almost everyday, are situations that most women not only wish to avoid, but feel ill at ease with. But notthe women fighters of the LTTE. They have literally flourished under such conditions andcreated for themselves, not only a new women’s military structure, but also a legend of fighting capability and bravery.The Women’s Military Unit of the Liberation Tigers, as the women’s structure is known, isundoubtedly the outcome of relentless and intensified national oppression. The oppression bythe Sinhala State and its apparatuses of repression over a period of four decades, has severelyaffected the nation and women’s lives in particular. Constant exposure to oppression has had a profound effect on the life and thinking of young Tamil women. Since 1984 young womenhave come forward to join the armed struggle spear-headed by the LTTE. With the large scaleinduction of women into the LTTE the female cadres have overcome inestimable difficultiesand challenges in the process of their metamorphosis from patriotic village girls intorevolutionary guerrilla fighters. In this process the Women’s Military Wing has become awell organised, highly disciplined and experienced fighting force.This work provides a brief historical sketch of the birth, growth and development of theWomen’s Military Unit of the LTTE. It documents, m some detail, the engagement of thewomen fighters in various armed combats in the liberation war.The first chapter gives a brief outline of the historical background of the State oppression perpetrated against the Tami people. It documents the upsurgence of the non-violent politicalcampaigns, the decline of Parliamentary and constitutional politics and the emergence of thearmed revolutionary struggle of the LTTE.The second chapter of the book deals with the recruitment and training of women militarycadres for armed combat. The training ground marks the beginning of women’s military life.The rigorous training provided by the LTTE transforms the women cadres into well-disciplined, efficient armed combatants capable of confronting the most difficult anddangerous war situations.The history of the armed struggle of the women fighters of the LTTE, their activeinvolvement and achievements in the protracted and escalating war constitutes the main bodyof the book. Starting with the initial induction in the first battle in Mannar in October 1986and ending with the major offensive assault on the large military base at Palali in the JaffnaPeninsula on the 23rd November 1992, the women fighters, as we have documented, havemade an enormous contribution to the advancement of the armed resistance campaign.In recording this six year history of the armed struggle, the work attempts to portray thesystematic growth and development of the women’s fighting force and their multipleexperiences from jungle guerrilla warfare to a more advanced and sophisticated form of mobile warfare. In anyone’s military catalogue their experience and achievements areenviable. The women combatants have not only confronted the military power of the SriLankan State but also fought the largest army of the Indian regional superpower.For nearly two years, in the LTTE’s resistance campaign against the Indian occupation army,the women fighters played a significant role in engaging the Indians in urban and jungle
guerrilla warfare graduating into an effective fighting force poised against a formidablemilitary machine. Since the outbreak of Eelam War 2 in June 1990, the women cadres have participated in all types of battles from guerrilla ambushes to semi-conventionalconfrontations.This book is not intended as theoretical document on feminism. It is beyond the scope of this text to provide a thorough exposition of the many feminist issues that women in combatconfront. Nevertheless a few feminist problems are briefly touched throughout the text. TheTamil society is a deeply entrenched patriarchal society and therefore women’s involvementin armed combat did raise many eyebrows from within the society. However the womencadres have been successful in over-coming some of the problems and projecting a new imageof Tamil women. Nevertheless it would be foolish to suggest that male chauvinism no longer exists. Nowhere in the world has male chauvinism been eradicated and it certainly has notdisappeared from the Tamil society. However the male cadres show a great deal of respect,appreciation and pride in the women combatants’ achievements.The Sinhalese soldiers too have paid a tribute to the courage and determination of the womenfighters. A Sinhalese columnist wrote in the Island newspaper that,“In the field, Tiger fighters, especially the women cadres, display a fantastic degree of ferocity and motivation - so much so that they have won the respect of their foes.”This extra-ordinary women’s force is loaded with a glorious history of courage, tenacity andsacrifice, of comradeship, patriotism and devotion to duty and cause. Since 1986, when thewomen fighters appeared on the battle scene, till December 30th 1992, three hundred andeighty one young women have sacrificed their lives in the armed struggle to advance theliberation of their homeland; to die a heroic death rather than living under the heels of oppression. This book is their story - the story of the women fighters of Liberation Tigers.
Historical Background:
The objective and subjective conditions that led to the active participation of Tamil women inthe armed resistance movement have been shaped by specific historical processes of Stateoppression. This history extends to a period of four decades during which time the Tamilnation has been subjected to a calculated and systematic form of oppression by thechauvinistic Sinhala State. Ever since the independence of the Island from British colonialismin 1948, successive Sri Lankan governments adopted racist policies aimed to undermine thenational identity of the Tamils. Repressive legislations were enacted to stifle the educationaland employment opportunities of the younger generation. State sponsored Sinhalacolonisation threatened the geographical unity and integrity of the Tamil homeland. Thismultidimensional oppression assumed the character of genocide posing a serious danger to thenational existence of the Tamil people.Tamils resisted the State oppression through non-violent political struggle. Adopting theGandhian principle of Ahimsa, the Tamil parliamentary political leadership mobilised theentire Tamil nation and organised mass national protests. In these national campaigns, whichdominated the Tamil political scene in the late fifties and early sixties, women played acrucial role as active participants. Tamil women participated in demonstrations, picketing and protests. In the nationwide Civil Disobedience Campaign which began in February 1961 andcontinued over a period of three months, thousands and thousands of women joined in the

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