Balasingham in June 2006
March 4, 1938|
Batticaloa, British Ceylon
|Died||December 14, 2006
London, United Kingdom
|Occupation||Chief Political Strategist,
Chief Negotiator for LTTE
|Spouse(s)||Adele Ann Wilby|
Anton Stanislaus Balasingham (March 4, 1938 – December 14, 2006) (Tamil:ஆண்டன் பாலசிங்கம்) was the chief political strategist and chief negotiator of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a militant organization. He was a British citizen of Tamil origin from Sri Lanka.
He was born in Batticaloa on 4 March 1938 in the Sri Lankan Tamil dominated district in the Eastern Province of what was then British Ceylon. His father was a Hindu and mother a Christian Roman Catholic. His father also hailed from Eastern province whereas his mother was a native Jaffna Tamil.
After his graduation from school in Jaffna, he worked as a journalist in a Colombo newspaper and as a translator at the British High Commission in Colombo. Balasingham was initially married to a Sri Lankan Tamil. After she died due to the complications of chronic renal failure, he married Adele Ann Wilby in London, UK, in 1978. Adele, an Australian citizen and a nurse by professional training, became a prominent member of the women’s wing of the LTTE.
In the past, Adele herself has been involved in the peace talks, as the secretary of the LTTE delegation. In April 2002, Anton Balasingaham appeared alongside LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran in a rare press conference in the LTTE held town of Kilinochchi in Sri Lanka.
From the Thimphu talks in 1985 to the first round of the Geneva talks held on February 22–23, 2006 Balasingham was the head of the LTTE delegation in all the peace negotiations with the government of Sri Lanka. However, he could not participate in an October 2006 round because of ill health, and in November 2006, Balasingham was diagnosed with cancer. He suffered from diabetes, Motor Neurone Disease, a degenerative disease of the nervous system, and possibly medicine-induced bile duct cancer. He died soon afterward, in December 2006.
Reactions to death
Following Balasingham's death, rebel leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran said in a rare emotional statement that:
|“||The light of our nation is extinguished, there is no Bala with me today to seek counsel and solace.||”|
|“||His death comes at a time when we needed him most, as our freedom struggle intensifies. I cannot find words to express my grief and loss.||”|
Government of Sri Lanka
The Ministry of Defence of Sri Lanka commented:
|“||His life long achievement is considered to be his ability to manipulate peace negotiations and postpone them indefinitely under various ruses until his movement could raise enough funds from the Tamil Diaspora and rearm the Tamil Tiger cadres strong enough to face the Sri Lanka army.||”|
State Government of Tamil Nadu
|“||I am unable to bear the sorrow over the death of my friend Mr Anton Balasingham, who I have known for many years.||”|
According to BBC, Balasingham's death was a loss to both sides of the Sri Lankan civil war. Balasingam was credited as the only moderating force within an otherwise belligerent rebel group and the only man within the group that could criticize and influence the leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. Balasingam was known for his relentless attempts to bring the Tigers to the international negotiating arena. It was mainly due to his perseverance that the Tigers acquired a reputation as a progressive organization among certain liberals in the west.
Balasingham was also credited with bringing the attention of the world to a forgotten war in this small island nation. Although Balasingham was plagued with physical ailments he valiantly attended all the peace talks.
With Balasingham dead the LTTE had no negotiator of comparable stature and the conflict played out to its end in purely military terms.
- "Ceasefire Talks". Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process. Retrieved 2006-11-26.
- "Anton Balasingham – will he or will he not lead LTTE delegation to Geneva talks?". Asiantribune. Archived from the original on 27 October 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-26.
- LTTE's Anton Balasingham 68, Dies of Cancer. (2006, December 22). India-West, p. A8.
- "Tamil Tigers mourn for ideologue", BBC News, December 15, 2006.
- "Anton Balasingham". BBC world. December 14, 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-22.