Violent death key to Tamil Tiger struggle

KILINOCHCHI, Sri Lanka, July 5, 2006 (AFP) – A tangle of fairy lights — reds, blues and greens — blink merrily around the photos of stern-faced Tamil Tiger cadre, staring grimly out into the world. These are the Tigers’ “martyrs”, young men and women, some of whom have blown themselves up, starved to death in protest or otherwise died in the struggle for a Tamil homeland.

The same faces can be seen in offices all over town, or on posters pasted to sign posts and shop walls in this rebel-held town in northern Sri Lanka; a chilling reminder that violent death is a cornerstone of the Tiger mythology.

A few kilometers outside of town Kilinochchi’s Kanagapuram Martyrs’s Cemetery emerges out of the dusty scrubland — a well-tended memorial to Tiger dead with almost 2,000 uniform stone grave markers lined up in precise rows.

“They should be honoured, and this encourages others to join the military struggle,” Srirajakumar Kanagalingam, an English teacher in a nearby village, says of the dead.

“It encourages people to sacrifice their lives for the motherland,” he says.

Since 1987, 261 “Black Tigers” have blown themselves, and many others, apart in suicide bombings — a practice that the