Dying Like a Gorilla

 ‘The city is the graveyard of the guerilla’
Che Guevara said that. What he meant was that the lifestyle of the city spoils the guerilla and makes him soft and weak. He needs the hardship and continuous challenge of the jungle in order for him to be on his toes and in fighting form.
When Rohana Wijeweera was captured in 1989, he spilled the beans on the rest of the JVP before anyone could say ‘spill the beans on the rest of the JVP’, just like he did post 1971. Most of the other leaders of the JVP did the same. By contrast, many of the lower ranks resisted severely and endured harsh beatings and still kept mum.
At this disgraceful show Varadarajah Perumal the first Chief Minister of the Northern Province quipped;

I say, Prabhakaran wouldn’t have died like that. He would have died fighting. If he was in a tight spot he would take cyanide. But he would never be taken alive to be spat on by his enemies.’

(Source: Sri Lanka; the years of terror, C.A Chandraprema)

Varadarajah was being delusional. Prabhakaran (or Pirabaharan as it is fashionable to call him now), like Wijeweera, had everyone duped. Even i thought he’d swallow a pill rather than suffer the ignomity of capture. But most evidence so far uncovered about the bloody ending of the war points at exactly this. Prabhakaran surrendered/ was captured and subsequently was killed/ died. Just like Wijeweera.

One wonders if it is this underlying cowardliness of the leadership that doomed both these post independece movements of rebellion to a bloody end. The leadership was in both cases inherently corrupt and unscrupulous; terrorizing the very people they claimed to be liberating. Their revolutionary ‘struggles’ were undermined by their own greed and lust for power. The movements they led soon turned into a criminal war to attain benefits for the criminals who ran it. Their ideals, however noble in their origins they may have been, quickly decomposed and became demonized.

They both led priviledged lifestyles at the times of their capture. They were far removed from the ground level of their struggles and left the fighting and dying to their countless minions. In this context, Che Guevara’s statement is not even applicable to the likes of Prabhakaran and Wijeweera. Criminals probably thrive in city environments. And they all die like cowards in the end.

Rohana Wijeweera, source unknown

  1. Most leaders… like Stalin for example have extensive Cults of Personality to surround them.

    There was a quote from Rome which I can’t find that basically says something like “Valour, Bravey and Courage during war. Peace breeds corruption, excess and eccentricity” (Far from an exact quote)

  2. John said:

    I completely agree. Some people, when told by others that they are invincible, start to believe them. And then reality hits them, hard.

  3. Wijeweera was a coward. But there were many top rankers in the JVP who never spat a word until they met their painful deaths. Can’t remember the name, but the military leader of JVP(Deshapremi Jathika viyaparaya) is one, who wrote in his cell wall that oneday the revolution would certainly succeed. The last Politburo member to be killed upali jayaweera went the same way.

    Let’s face it there were many courages people, both in JVP and LTTE.

  4. maf said:

    Leaders of all shades tend to have a retinue of sycophants around them and they end up believing their own press releases…
    also the taste of luxury is the ultimate corruption – its hard to go back..

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