Almost a month after their devastating defeat by the Sri Lankan Army, the Tamil Tigers’ last few surviving leaders have announced that the rebel group will be reborn as a separatist movement in exile.
In an e-mailed audio file that has flown around the Tamil diaspora, the rebels’ head of international relations, Selvarasa Pathmanathan, said that the group was reorganising to pursue its goal of a separate Tamil state from outside Sri Lanka. “The struggle of the people of Tamil Eelam has reached a new stage,” he said. “It is time now for us to move forward with our political vision towards our freedom.”
Mr Pathmanathan gave no indication that the group would renounce violence but announced the establishment of a “provisional transnational government of Tamil Eelam”, which would decide on a course of action “within democratic principles”. Tamil Eelam is the name given by the Tigers to the north and eastern areas of Sri Lanka to which they lay claim.
Mr Pathmanathan, who is wanted by Interpol in connection with his role as the Tigers’ main arms smuggler, is one of a handful of senior cadres who escaped annihilation last month because he is based overseas.
The Tamil diaspora, a community of millions from Canada to Australia, has been crucial in financing the rebel movement, donating millions of dollars, much of it for weapons. Some Tamils in Sri Lanka have condemned the diaspora for its support of an undemocratic regime which its members did not have to live under.
Velupillai Prabhakaran, the Tiger leader killed during the offensive in May, resisted democratic reform of his movement, posing a key obstacle to the peace process which was finally abandoned in 2006, heralding the return to war.
After the Tigers’ military defeat some supporters overseas said that they were waiting for word of what would happen to the movement in order to decide how to channel their money.
The Tigers are a banned terrorist group in most Western countries. Last week the founder of the British Tamil Association was sentenced to two years in jail for illegally procuring electrical components for the group.
Almost 300,000 Tamil civilians who had been trapped in the war zone are now interned in military-run camps in northern Sri Lanka. The Government says they must stay there until they can be “screened” for links to the Tigers — although Sri Lanka’s Foreign Secretary has suggested that all Tamils could be considered as being “with” the Tigers “at least mentally”.
The United Nations has called on the Sri Lankan Government to allow full humanitarian access to the camps.International human rights groups have called for an independent inquiry into war crimes allegedly committed by both sides during the final assault in May. A Times investigation last month found that more than 20,000 Tamil civilians were killed, most of them during government shelling.
Yesterday government officials revealed that the only human rights investigation into the war had been disbanded with more than half of its cases unresolved. The inquiry was established two years ago under international pressure and was assigned 16 cases of alleged abuses by both sides, including the execution-style killings of 17 aid workers from the French group Action Contre la Faim.
In March last year a team of international observers on the commission resigned saying the Government lacked the will to investigate the abuse claims.
Amidst several new revelations in the Sri Lankan crisis by the Tamils, Sinhalese and rest of the world, the Asia team comprising of India, Pakistan, China and Iran continues to reign in the rhettoric of “war on terror” despite the heavy cost of the war. UN is now on a damage control mode, after the leaked information on the casualties of 20,000 civilians in the last few days alone of the war. With the Sri Lanka government establishing that the LTTE has been eliminated from the face of the earth, the Tamils, especially the Diaspora seem to have gotten even stronger in their resolve for continuing the struggle.
While the UN Chief Ban Ki Moon reiterated the need for an international investigation to examine the war crimes of Rajapakse’s government, the Sri Lankan administration continued ignoring the growing resentment across the globe. In a statement to reporters on Friday at U.N. headquarters, Mr Ban Ki Moon said:
“Any inquiry, to be meaningful, should be supported by the members of the United Nations, and also should be very impartial and objective,”
“I would like to ask the Sri Lankan government to recognize the international call for accountability and full transparency, and whenever and wherever there are credible allegations of violations of humanitarian law, there should be a proper investigation.”
So far no Tamil has been quoted as welcoming the outcome of the war. Even hardcore Sri Lankan government supporter Mr. V. Anadasangaree has termed the conditions of the Tamils in the Manik Farm Camp as “horrible”.
Canadian Tamil Congress spokesman David Poopalapillai said he does not believe Mr Rajapakse even for a minute. His organization has planned to hold several protests in Toronto and is also calling European Tamil organizations to hold protests.
In Europe young and elite leadership is emerging from the Diaspora Tamils. Rapper MIA endorsed Jan Jananayagan who is contesting as an the independent candiate to the EU Parliament. MIA appeared in several major media network, calling upon Londoners, to support Jan on a platform for Civil liberty. Jan holds an MBA from the INSEAD Business School in France and says she stands for, Individual Freedom, Financial Transparency and Effective Regulation, Equality and Diversity, Small Businesses and Entrepreneurship, Ethical Foreign Policy & Animal Welfare. Jan has been campaigning with all minority communities in London and the Sikh and Tibet community organizations have declared their support for her candidature.
The EU Parliament election is a win-win effort by Jan, with some visible results already – of the unifying Diaspora that is strengthening the freedom movement after the demise of the military wing of LTTE.
Out Look India’s Sadanand Menon observes the following:
..a newly articulate, million-strong, diasporic community with international connections is poised to step in. That is where the new leadership, new resistance and new political process will come from. This segment is better equipped to continue the struggle through constitutional means..
The Lankan Tamil community stands as a symbol of hope for civil liberty. With their resolve they are demonstrating that there is nothing called “defeat”. Their determination and focus is likely to result in the emergence of a new elite leadership for the Eelam Tamils.
The Mighty Pen website requests all readers to read this article.
The last days of Thiruvenkadam Veluppillai Prabhakaran
By D.B.S. Jeyaraj
Thiruvenkadam Veluppillai Prabhakaran is no more!
The body of the 54 year old supreme leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) was found on Tuesday May 19th near the Mullaitheevu lagoon known as “Nanthikkadal” (sea of conches). He had gunshot wounds in the head and forehead.
[Thiruvenkadam Veluppillai Prabhakaran]
Thus ended the life of the man who was once described by the LTTE’s political strategist, Anton Stanislaus Balasingham, as both “the president and prime minister of Tamil Eelam”. Army commander Sarath Fonseka announced the death officially at 12.15 pm on the 19th.
The ephemeral nature of power was illustrated vividly by the death of Prabhakaran who controlled what was perhaps the most powerful guerilla organization in the world and was raised to divine status as “Sooriyathevan” (Sun God) by his sycophantic followers.
The circumstances of his death were , just as in life , mired in controversy.His demise was anticipated before it happened. The discovery of his corpse was revealed in sections of the media even before it was found.Then the LTTE’s chief of International relations , Selvarasa Pathmanathan alias KP issued a denial of the death of his leader. This has resulted in a bizarre situation where the Tamil diaspora remains overtly calm and cool while the media in Sri Lanka and abroad are going to town with news of his death as well as obituaries .
What is worse , there seems to be division among LTTE and pro-LTTE ranks overseas about how to respond to the leader’s death. One faction wants to acknowledge it , pay homage to Prabhakaran and proceed from there.
The others want to deny it and perpetuate the myth that the LTTE leader is alive. Elaborate efforts are on to circulate doctored images of Prabhakaran and also audio cassettes. The idea is to project an impression that Prabhakaran is safe in the north-eastern jungles leading a guerilla campaign with the participation of remaining cadres.
It remains to be seen as to how this charade will be played out in the future. At the heart of this diaspora dilemma is the fact that fund-raising will dwindle if the people realize that Prabhakaran is dead. Also there are many money-making concerns run by “front” persons on behalf of the enemy. Let us also remember that the “Mafia” had its roots in the freedom movement of Sicily.
Furthermore there is also the “cold war” going on between LTTE factions. The overseas branch officials are the loyalists of Castro who was in charge of Overseas administration. They resent the appointment of Selvarasa Pathmanathan alias KP as the new global tiger chief.
In addition the intelligence chief Pottu Amman has also established his own network of operatives and spies. At present the Castro and Pottu factions are ganging up to dislodge and undermine KP whose “strength” was his closeness to Prabhakaran.
While these sinister games are on the departed LTTE leader is being denied his due after death. Given the sycophantic praise showered on Prabhakaran by diaspora and Tamil Nadu acolytes during his lifetime one would expect a series of ceremonies worldwide to honour the memory of the man who fought for his cause for more than 30 years. But with the tiger camp divided there seems to be no indication about any of his supporters trying to write or talk about Prabhakaran’s death let alone paying tribute .
It is against this backdrop that I write this piece. It is neither a biography nor an eulogy. It is not even a critique or analysis. What I hope to do is to try and shed some light at least on the circumstances leading to Prabhakaran’s death. I have attempted to piece together the events preceding his demise and compile a brief account of his last days from various “informed” sources on either side of the ethnic divide.
To read more please go to : http://sjsandteam.wordpress.com/2009/05/26/the-last-days-of-vellupillai-prabhakaran/