Here is a powerful and insightful piece by a former Tamil Tiger woman who was recruited at 13 in the Sri Lankan civil war and served for 15 years. Also coming soon: my review of Samanth Subramanian’s new book: "This Divided Island: Stories from the Sri Lankan War".
Increasing state persecution of Tamils in the seventies inspired the formation of a few small insurgent groups, including the LTTE in 1976. They impatiently challenged the elderly political leadership, but had few recruits. After the July 1983 riots, however, hundreds of enraged young people became radicalized. By the time Mugil was a teenager, the LTTE had emerged as the strongest and most ruthless of the militant groups.
The Tigers were not just real-life heroes to Mugil; they were also the only ones who seemed to be in control. Even Mugil’s father, after coming to PTK, started to print pamphlets and run other mysterious errands for them. “Be loyal to Prabhakaran,” he said. “He will take our people far.”