Pirapaharan felicitates Kumar's family

[TamilNet, Monday, 12 May 2003, 00:28 GMT]
Velupillai Pirapaharan, leader of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) , awarded the 'Maamanithar' medal to Yogaluxmi Ponnambalam, wife of late Kumar Ponnambalam, in honor of her husband in a special function held in Kilinochchi, Sunday, sources said. Late Kumar's children, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, a lawyer and Tamil National Alliance (TNA)Parliamentarian, and Mirnalini Ponnambalam, a physician, accompanied their mother to the function.

Kumar Ponnambalam, president of the All Ceylon Tamil Congress, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen at Wellawatte, a Tamil suburb of the capital Colombo around 11.15 a.m. 5 January 2000.

The LTTE bestowing the Most Eminent Person (Maamanithar) award on the 8 January 2000 said the award was for Mr. Ponnambalam's "dedicated patriotism and for his outstanding contribution to the cause of Tamil liberation".

"Conferring this highest national award for extra-ordinary services on Mr. Ponnambalam, the LTTE leader Mr. Pirapaharan praised him as a great patriot who courageously championed the freedom of the Tamil nation."

In a special statement issued announcing the award Mr. Pirapaharan categorised Mr. Ponnambalam as "a revolutionary political leader who fought for human justice with sincere determination and commitment," the LTTE said.

"Freedom of expression is a basic tenet of a vibrant democracy. If Mr.Kumar Ponnambalam's assassination is attributable to the exercise of this fundamental right it would indeed be a dangerous trend, and would seriously erode the right of a citizen to think and express himself with independence," TULF said in a statement issued following death.

Kumar Ponnambalam
(Photo: LTTE peace secretariat)

LTTE in a statement sent to international media following his death, accused the Sri Lankan government and Tamil groups operating with the Sri Lanka armed forces of carrying out the killing.

The statement further said:

"The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) wishes to express its deep shock and profound grief over the brutal killing of Mr. Kumar Ponnambalam, a courageous Tamil leader who fearlessly exposed the hypocrisy of the Sinhala state and audaciously championed the cause of the Tamil nation.

"We accuse the Sri Lanka government and the Tamil quisling groups of masterminding and executing this heinous crime to silence a brave, daring voice of reason that defended the rights of the Tamils.

"Mr. Ponnambalam's sudden death is a great and irreparable loss to the Tamils, a monumental tragedy that has befallen the Tamil nation at a critical historical time.

"Faced with constant threat to his life and property, Mr. Ponnambalam lived in the heart of the Sri Lankan capital and boldly challenged his racist adversaries. His speeches and writings, which touched on extremely controversial issues, expressed its truthfullness, genuiness, uprightness and indomitable spirit for justice.

"He pleaded for the rights and liberties of thousands of innocent Tamils in Colombo who were subjected to constant persecution at the hands of the tyrannical Sinhala state. He also voiced for the Tamils rights at international forums.

"Mr. Ponnambalam was the only Tamil leader who openly and fearlessly supported the armed freedom struggle of the Liberation Tigers. He endorsed the policy of the LTTE as the authentic political project based on the right to self-determination of the Tamil people."

G.G.Kumar Ponnambalam was born on 12 August 1938. A lawyer by profession he was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn, London in 1974. He practised for 28 years as an Attorney-at-Law in Sri Lanka, and an Advocate of the High Court in Tamil Nadu, India.

He is the son of G.G.Ponnambalam QC, who was an outstanding criminal defense attorney and politician who spoke up for the rights of the Tamil people during the pre- and early post- colonial Ceylon.

Kumar entered Sri Lankan politics in the early 60's and became president of the Youth wing of All Ceylon Tamil Congress in 1966. He contested Sri Lanka elections in 1977 and in the presidential elections in 1982.

As a human rights activist and spokes-person for the Tamils, he openly challenged the Sri Lankan Government's policy on human and political rights for Tamils. He also addressed the UN commission on Human Rights in Geneva in 1997 and 1999, and the European parliament in Brussels in 1998.

His involvement in Krishanthy Kumaraswamy rape and murder case brought to light the atrocities committed by the Sri Lankan security forces in the Tamil homelands, and the presence of mass graves in Chemmani, Jaffna.

Mrs. Ponnambalam, a cardiac surgeon and an old-pupil of Hartley College, Point-Pedro, was a strong supporter of her husband's political ideals, and accompanied her husband during his many visits abroad in speaking tours supporting Tamil struggle.

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