The leader of the Tamil Tigers is called Vellupillai Prabhakaran¹. Currently wanted by the Interpol for murder, organised crime, terrorism and conspiracy to terrorism, he is also one of the instrumental people in creating peace in Sri Lanka.

Prabhakaran was born in 1954 in the coastal town of Velvettithurai. He was shy and bookish as a child, but had a fascination for Indian freedom fighters Subhash Chandra Bose and Bhagat Singh, as well as historical fighters like Napoleon and Alexander the Great.

In the 1970s, Prabhakaran joined the Tamil protest movement because of the discrimination he saw against Tamils in Sri Lanka. He started attending political meetings and studied martial arts. He also partook when the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam was founded around this time.

The 1975 murder of the mayor of Jaffna, for which Prabhakaran was named responsible, marked the beginning of several killings carried out by the Tamil nationalist movement. In 1998, the Tiger leader was convicted in absentia for ordering the assassination of the former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

All the years in between, Prabhakaran has been fighting from his secret bases in the jungle of north Sri Lanka. Through his leadership the LTTE has become a ruthless terrorist/guerrilla organisation. Like most of the Tigers, their leader wears a capsule of cyanide around his neck so as not to ever be captured alive.

On April 10, 2002, Vellupillai Prabhakharan came out of hiding for his first press conference in over a decade. He said that he supported the current peace talks with the Sri Lankan government, but said that he refused to give up the claim for independence and insisted that the government must stop calling him a terrorist, as he is a legitimate representative of the Tamil people.

At least he is the representative who holds the gun.

¹The name can be transcribed from Tamil in many ways. This seems the most usual.

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