1990 - Jaffna
LTTE Gold Token

In 1990 the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) led by Vellupillai Prabhakaran (CV), imposed a tax of at least 2-gold sovereigns on every household in Jaffna to finance their civil war. The richer were taxed more. A receipt for payment of the gold Tax by family was needed for example travel out of Jaffna.

The Indian Peace Keeping Forces (IPKF) pulled out of Sri Lanka on 1990 March 24, at the request of then President Premadasa. On 1990, June 11, the LTTE broke the 1-year cease-fire it had entered into with the Sri Lanka Government and with Eelam War-2. took control of Jaffna town in 1990 July. The SL Army remained trapped in the Jaffna Fort for a 107 day siege till October. LTTE held Jaffna till 1995 December and set up a parallel administration in the region. Some time later they returned the Tax paid to some of the families in cash or two gold tokens they had minted.

Alloy Gold Au.833
Type Struck
Diameter 22.7 mm
Thickness 1.5 mm
Weight 7.98 gms
Shape Round
Edge Milled
Die Axis
Issue #
Mint Jaffna
1990_ltte_au_obverse 1990_ltte_au_reverse
KM Unlisted
Obverse : Emblem of the LTTE: Semi circle of bullets around the Tiger face and claws with crossed guns at center. Thamil Eelam Veeduthalai Puligal above and Liberation Tigers of TAMIL EELAM below along periphery.
Reverse : 20 Ma (karet), 8 giram (grams), Aadee 1990 (July 1990) in 3 lines in Center. Thamil Eela Meedpunithi (Tamil Eelam Saving-Fund) above, and Kadan Meelal (Loan Returned) below along periphery.

The Tamil word Meedpunithi implies a fund for saving or rescuing somebody or something (in this case probably Eelam).

It is technically a Token not a coin since a 20kt gold tokens of 8 grams was used to refund a loan obtained in 22kt gold sovereigns. It has gold Bullion value (0.214 Oz AGW) and also not government issued legal tender of specific monetary face value.

On 1999 March 15th the General Secretary of TELO was arrested for possessing two gold coins with the LTTE logo embossed. In 2001 January a similar gold token was gifted as a souvenir by Prabakaran to Eric Solheim the Norwegian Peace negotiator. Two Gold Tokens each was reported was going to be returned in 2002 November to 2500 families, selected by way of a lottery, from those who had paid the 2-sovereign Tax imposed to fund Eelam-War-3 which started in 1995. I heard that there was only a change in date on the face of token.

Suicide assassinations is a trade mark of the LTTE. On 1996 January 31st LTTE bombed the Central Bank of Sri Lanka causing 91 deaths and injured 1400 others. Much of the CBSL historical records and documentation were lost as the library was completely destroyed. On 1996 July 24th LTTE bombed the evening rush hour Commuter Train at Dehiwala Station causing 64 deaths and injured 400 others. Some personal stories recalls the Horror. Their attack on the Colombo Airport on 2001 July 24th caused over a Billion dollars of destruction. All this beore USA woke up to the terror of 9/11.

The Sri Lanka(1998) ban on the LTTE was lifted in 2002, but reimposed in 2009 January. The group remains classified a Terrorist organization in India(1992), Malaysia(1996), USA(1997), UK(2000), Australia(2001), Canada(2006), EU(2006)...

From 2002 February to 2006 July there was a cease-fire and the LTTE was negotiating a peace agreement with the Government of Sri Lanka. Tourist Travel restrictions to Jaffna were lifted after 20 years. Domestic airlines had a few flights each day between Colombo and Jaffna. Peace Talks however ended in 2003 April. The Peace was broken in 2004 April with internal conflict between the northern and eastern fraction the LTTE. Peace talks resumed only for a brief month in 2006 February. Eelam War IV started in 2006 July, and the LTTE terminated on 2009 May 18th at Nanthi kadal.

For security reasons most of the LTTE gold was not accepted at pawn shops and those turned into Jewelers are melted, making them difficult to find. Even the LTTE Gold shop in Kannathiddy, Kasthuria Road (Jeweller Street), Jaffna didn't have any in stock. I was informed that one would need to go personally to LTTE headquarters in Kilinochchi and make a request for a token from the TamilEelam Bank.

It was after a lot of effort that I located two in 2003 within the region in Jaffna, under SL government jurisdiction. From the media reports I had assumed in error that they were counter-marked sovereigns rather than re-minted, since I had not seen even an image.

The Token above shows a die crack on the obverse - on both specimens I have seen. The token is slightly larger than a gold sovereign and is stated to have 9% less gold purity. In Colombo acid test on a rubbing on stone indicated about 21 karat.

Larry Korchnak of WPNS informs me that although this token is not a Siege Coin it can be called necessity money a larger class of coins issued at times of necessity that require production of emergency money.

Colin Bruce (Senior editor of Krause) informs me that three gold coins from 1970-71 are listed in KM under Myanmar (Burma) as Revolutionary Coinage of the Patriotic Liberation Army. The central government made ownership of those coins a high crime punishable by death. He has now listed in the Krause catalog Unusual World Coins.

The Token was scanned at 600 dpi and displayed at 300 dpi. It was a lucky find at a Gold Shop during my visit to Jaffna, Lanka in May 2003. I thank Ms Anula Radalage Meier of Anouk Swiss Chalet, Jaffna for all her hospitality during my brief two-day visit. I was very sad to hear in less than two months she had to leave Jaffna for reasons beyond her control.

I also thank all those who helped me with the transliteration and translation of the Tamil words on the Token.

The 1990 is the year the Tax was imposed and unlikely the year of issue.
No more tokens of this type have been reported. I was told of a different type with only the tiger claws, but not seen an image or any other details.

Despite e-mailing many Tamil websites I have got no reply with more information.

Please send me E_mail if you have more information about these issues, such as the month-year indicated on the token, the number different types issued, and when they were issued, and how these recipients were selected. For example the Maveerar families or those who have "contributed" a member or more from their family to the LTTE cause.

In 2006 January I was told by an Swiss NGO working in Jaffna, that he had heard about this return of loan in cash or gold tokens, but had not yet seen any of the tokens.

I understand from a very reliable source that that some of these tokens were gifted by the LTTE to the SLMM team from Norway when they visited Killinochi.

I understand from reliable sources that families who had paid the Tax had their names published in the Uthayan and received a letter asking them to personally pickup in Kilinochchi the refund of the Tax in cash or gold coin. Most took Cash. It is unconfirmed as to how the family names were picked, if it was by Lottery, date of payment or region. One recipient family known to source was not Maveerar who were anyway exempt from the tax. I was recently told a list was published monthly in Uthayan and was based on region.

A coin dealer in Fort infomed me that he knew a customer who had purchased a token at a LTTE fund raiser in London. In 2013 I was shown images of a LTTE token which was most probabaly a recent replica

If you use any images of coin or tokens from website PLEASE include a reference link to original source page. This image of token has for example been posted by others in Wikipedia and tamilnation.org which confirms that it seems not to be available to many.

This web page is posted on LakdivaCoins a web site for numismatic information on Coins and Tokens that circulated in Lanka.