Founded in May 1976 by Velupillai Prabhakaran, the LTTE was involved in armed clashes against the Sri Lankan government and armed forces. Oppression against Sri Lankan Tamils continued by Sinhalese mobs, notably during the 1977 anti-Tamil pogrom and the 1981 burning of the Jaffna Public Library. Following the week-long July 1983 anti-Tamil pogrom carried out by Sinhalese mobs that came to be known as Black July, the LTTE's escalation of intermittent conflict into a full-scale nationalist insurgency began, which started the Sri Lankan Civil War. By this time, the LTTE was widely regarded as the most dominant Tamil militant group in Sri Lanka and among the most feared guerrilla forces in the world, while Prabhakaran's status as a freedom guerrilla fighter led to comparisons to revolutionary Che Guevara by global media, though Prabhakaran's actions were also widely viewed as terroristic.
During its active years, the LTTE had established and administered a de facto state under its control, named Tamil Eelam with Kilinochchi as its administrative capital, and had managed a government in its territory, providing state functions such as courts, a police force, a human rights organisation, and a humanitarian assistance board, a health board, and an education board. However, the court system, composed of young judges with little or no legal training had operated without codified or defined legal authority, and essentially operated as agents of the LTTE rather than as an independent judiciary. It ran a bank (Bank of Tamil Eelam), a radio station (Voice of Tigers) and a television station (National Television of Tamil Eelam). In the LTTE-controlled areas, women reported lower levels of domestic violence because "the Tigers had a de facto justice system to deal with domestic violence." The United States Department of State Human Rights Reports have described LTTE's governance as an authoritarian military rule, denying the people under its authority the right to change their government, infringing on their privacy rights, routinely violating their civil liberties, operating an unfair court system, restricting freedom of movement and severely discriminating against ethnic and religious minorities. 2b1af7f3a8