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Lt. Colonel

Thileepan (Rasaiah Parthipan).jpg
R. Parthipan

(1963-11-29)29 November 1963
Died26 September 1987(1987-09-26) (aged 23)
Nallur, Sri Lanka
Other namesAmirthalingam Thileepan
Years active1983 –1987
OrganizationLiberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam

Rasaiah Parthipan (Tamil: ? ; 29 November 1963 – 26 September 1987; commonly known by the nom de guerre Thileepan) was a Tamil Eelam revolutionary and member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a separatist Tamil militant organisation in Sri Lanka. He died while on hunger strike.[1][2][3][4][5]

Early life and family

Parthipan was born on 29 November 1963.[6][a] He was from Urelu near Urumpirai in northern Ceylon.[9] His father was a Tamil teacher and he had three older brothers.[9] His mother died when Parthipan was three months old.[9] After his father died of diabetes he was brought up by his brothers.[9] He was educated at Jaffna Hindu College.[7][8][9] After school he enrolled in the University of Jaffna.[7][9]


Parthipan joined the militant Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) prior to the 1983 Black July anti-Tamil riots.[8] He was given the nom de guerre Thileepan. Injured in the stomach in May 1987 during the Vadamarachchi Operation (Operation Liberation), he became the LTTE's political leader for Jaffna peninsula.[10][11]

As hostilities increased in northern Sri Lanka, the LTTE handed over a letter to the Indian High Commissioner on 13 September 1987 making five demands: the release of all political prisoners held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and emergency regulations; cessation of Sinhalese colonisation of Tamil areas under the guise of "rehabilitation"; cessation of all "rehabilitation" activities until the establishment of the Interim Administrative Council; cessation of construction of police stations in the Northern and Eastern provinces; and the disarmament of Home Guards and withdrawal of the army/police from schools and colleges.[12][13][14][b] The demands were aimed at the Indian rather than the Sri Lankan government because the LTTE believed that Indians could force the Sri Lankans to comply.[14] The LTTE gave the Indians 24 hours to respond but no response, or even an acknowledgement, was received.[12]

Determined to make the Indians meet the demands, Thileepan began a hunger strike on 15 September 1987 in front of Nallur Kandaswamy Temple.[13][17][18] Thileepan gave speeches which were broadcast on Nidharshanam, the LTTE's TV stations.[10][11] People from all over Jaffna peninsula came to observe and participate in the hunger strike.[10][11] On 22 September 1987 Indian High Commissioner J. N. Dixit arrived at Palaly Airport and was met by LTTE leader V. Prabhakaran who wanted Dixit to go and see Thileepan.[11] Dixit wanted a written guarantee from Prabhakaran that Thileepan would end his hunger strike if Dixit met with him but Prabhakaran couldn't give the guarantee.[11] As his condition deteriorated, Thileepan stopped giving speeches.[10] After refusing food or water for 12 days, Thileepan died on 26 September 1987.[13][19][20][21] After a "martyr's funeral" in Jaffna, Thileepan's body was handed over to the University of Jaffna's medical faculty.[10] Thileepan's death resulted in large anti-government and anti-Indian protests in northern Sri Lanka.[13][19][14]

A statue of Thileepan was built behind Nallur Kandaswamy Temple in 1988.[22][23] After the Sri Lankan military re-captured the Valikamam region in 1996 they destroyed the statue.[22][23] The statue was re-built in 2003 during the Norwegian mediated Cease Fire Agreement.[24] After war resumed, Thileepan's photograph and decorative lamps at the statue were damaged by the army on 26 October 2006.[22][23] Thileepan's statue was attacked and destroyed by armed men on 18 November 2007.[22] The remnants of Thileepan's memorial, the pillar, was destroyed by the army on 21 March 2010.[23]


  1. ^ Another source gives Parthipan's date of birth as 27 November 1963[7] whilst another gives his year of birth as 1962.[8]
  2. ^ Sri Lankan sources falsely claim that Thileepan's hunger strike was a protest against the presence of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka.[15][16]


  1. ^ K. M. de Silva, K. M. de Silva (1995). Regional Powers and Small State Security: India and Sri Lanka, 1977-1990. Woodrow Wilson Center Press. p. 258. ISBN 0-8018-5149-1.
  2. ^ Cummings, Joe; Cannon, Teresa; Elliott, Mark; Ver Berkmoes, Ryan (2006). Sri Lanka. Lonely Planet. p. 309.
  3. ^ Balachandran, P. K. (3 July 2015). "Former LTTE Militants To Contest Polls As 'Crusaders For Democracy'". The New Indian Express.
  4. ^ Subramanian, T. S. (7 February 1998). "Unravelling the plot". Frontline. 15 (3).
  5. ^ Furlong, Ray (23 April 2009). "amil hunger strike in third week". BBC News.
  6. ^ Arumugam, S. (1997). Dictionary of Biography of the Tamils of Ceylon (PDF). p. 230.
  7. ^ a b c "Thileepan's 16th death anniversary to be commemorated". TamilNet. 4 September 2003.
  8. ^ a b c Mehta, Raj K. (2010). Lost Victory: The Rise & Fall of LTTE Supremo, V. Prabhakaran. Pentagon Press. p. 176. ISBN 978-81-8274-443-1.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Wijerathna, Arunadale; Kulasuriya, Madhawa (26 April 2015). "Was Thileepan killed to make him a martyr?". Ceylon Today.
  10. ^ a b c d e Rajasingham, K. T. "Chapter 35: Accord turns to discord". Sri Lanka: The Untold Story.
  11. ^ a b c d e Bhattacharya, Samir (2014). "Chapter 7: Caught in a Tangled Web". Nothing But! - Book Five: All is Fair in Love and War. Partridge Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4828-1733-1.
  12. ^ a b Sabesan. "Message of Sacrifice - 19 Years On..." Ilankai Tamil Sangam.
  13. ^ a b c d "Tamil Rebel Dies After 12-Day Fast; Crowds Press Demands". Los Angeles Times. United Press International. 27 September 1987.
  14. ^ a b c Lahiri, Simanti (2014). Suicide Protest in South Asia: Consumed by Commitment. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-82099-8.
  15. ^ "More and more and more". The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka). 19 September 2004.
  16. ^ Weerakkody, Kalinga (28 September 2002). "Students compelled to join LTTE hartal". The Island (Sri Lanka).
  17. ^ Krishna, Sankaran (1999). Postcolonial Insecurities: India, Sri Lanka, and the Question of Nationhood. University of Minnesota Press. p. 179. ISBN 0-8166-3329-0.
  18. ^ "LTTE leader pays homage to Thileepan, Sankar". TamilNet. 26 September 2008.
  19. ^ a b "A Tamil Separatist Leader Dies in Protest Fast". The New York Times. 27 September 1987.
  20. ^ Murari, S. (2012). The Prabhakaran Saga: The Rise and Fall of an Eelam Warrior. SAGE Publications. p. 39. ISBN 978-81-321-0701-9.
  21. ^ Sri-Skanda-Rajah, Usha S. (26 September 2015). "Thileepan: The Reckoning That Non-Violence Didn't Stand A Chance". Colombo Telegraph.
  22. ^ a b c d "Thileepan statue destroyed in Nalloor, Jaffna". TamilNet (20 November 2007).
  23. ^ a b c d "Sinhalese soldiers, hooligans destroy Thileepan memorial in Jaffna". TamilNet. 23 March 2010.
  24. ^ "Lt. Col. Thileepan memorial re-opened in Nallur". TamilNet (25 August 2003).

External links

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