South Asia

Sri Lanka war 'a waste of people's lives' - ex-Tiger

Daya Master. File photo
Image caption Daya Master says he now manages a TV channel in the northern city of Jaffna

A former media spokesman for the Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka has said the decades-long war between them and the state was a waste of people's lives.

Velayutham Dayanidhi, better known as Daya Master, also said he was glad that the country was now at peace.

He was speaking in an exclusive interview with the BBC.

It is the first broadcast interview by any of the former senior Tiger leaders since their movement was defeated on the battlefield in 2009.

Pending case

Daya Master surrendered to government forces with a colleague in April last year, weeks before the Tamil Tigers were beaten. The two men were released on bail last September, but their whereabouts had been unclear.

The BBC has now spoken to Daya Master by phone in the northern city of Jaffna, where he works as local head of a private Tamil television channel.

He said he was living peacefully there, as was his wife who was working as a teacher.

"Nobody wants the war. Tamil people also didn't like the war. Their main aim is education," he said.

Asked whether he thought the war was really a waste of money and lives, Daya Master said: "Yeah, that's true."

He declined to comment on whether he regretted being part of such a violent organisation, or on the case which is to be heard against him next month.

When he was released on bail, the police said there was no evidence to charge him under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, but said possible criminal activity was being looked into.

Shortly after his surrender, Daya Master said in a government video interview that the rebels had shot at least 200 civilians as they tried to leave the war zone.

The former media spokesman told the BBC he had no relationship with the Sri Lankan government.

He also said he had not met his former senior Tiger colleague, Selvarase Pathmanathan, who was captured in August 2009, but has been working with government officials to engage with visiting members of the Tamil diaspora.

Thousands of other former rebels remain in detention and hundreds are likely to face charges in court.

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