Sri Lanka Tiger leader Prabhakaran's mother dies

By Charles Haviland
BBC News, Colombo

Image caption,
Vellupillai Prabhakaran was killed by Sri Lanka's military in May 2009

The mother of the late leader of the Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka has died in hospital in the north of the island.

Parvati Pillai, the mother of Vellupillai Prabhakaran, was 81.

She will be cremated on Tuesday with traditional Hindu rites in her home town of Valvedditturai, near Jaffna.

A relative and former parlimentarian, MK Shivajilingam, told BBC News that her body was lying in a public place for people to pay their respects.

He said the numbers coming were quite low because some people feared reprisals if they did so.

Mr Shivajilingam said a sports club and another public association in the town had flown their flags at half-mast and put up death notices which also mentioned Vellupillai Prabhakaran's name.

He said that on Sunday the army had removed some of these and made what he described as threats, but that on Monday things were peaceful.

He expected several thousand to attend the funeral, including relatives and friends from several parts of Sri Lanka and "a lot of politicians" from the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Military custody

The LTTE kept her and her husband, Thiruvengadam Vellupillai, with them, along with hundreds of thousands of other Tamil civilians, as they fought to the death against the Sri Lankan army in a shrinking battle zone in 2009.

Vellupillai Prabhakaran and other Tiger leaders were killed by the military in May that year as the government declared victory in the decades-long conflict.

Prabhakaran's wife and children also died. His parents entered a refugee camp but were then taken into military custody until the death of Mr Vellupillai in January 2010.

His widow was then released and travelled to Malaysia for medical treatment. She tried to enter India on a medical visa but was deported by its government on security grounds.

Her home had been demolished by the Sri Lankan military and she stayed in a family house next door before moving to hospital.

Mr Shivajilingam said that in her last months, after being released by the army, she would always start crying when asked about her experiences and refused to talk about her son.

She has surviving daughters in India and Canada and a son in Denmark.

Vellupillai Prabhakaran founded the Tigers in the 1970s in pursuit of a homeland for the island's Tamil minority.

He was a pioneer of suicide bomb attacks in which many civilians and others died.