Feature Article

Diaspora youth group re-aligns Tamil narrative on enforced disappearances

[TamilNet, Friday, 04 September 2020, 22:13 GMT]
The misrepresentation and interpretation of enforced Tamil disappearances and Tamil Prisoners of War (POWs) represent an extension of Colombo’s genocidal agenda which continues to be mirrored through the engagements of the genocidal state’s global counterparts. In that regard, the Swiss-based Tamil Youth group – “Phoenix – the Next Generation” have condemned such internal and external diversions away from the contextualisation of enforced Tamil disappearances as a component of Colombo’s genocidal agenda through a social media initiative coinciding with the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances.

Some of the key persons among the Eezham Tamils subjected to enforced disappearances at the hands of
Some of the key persons among the Eezham Tamils subjected to enforced disappearances at the hands of the SL military in May 2009

The issue of enforced Tamil disappearances has not been handled in an appropriate manner due to a self-victimised perspective which stems from a defeatist mindset, according to the Tamil diaspora youth group.

Whilst such disappearances are often characterised as isolated issues of families, it must be noted that enforced Tamil disappearances occurred, and continue to occur as a genocidal and filtered mechanism where specific individuals are targeted and subjected to enforced disappearances, the youth group argues.

Most of the Tamils who were forcibly disappeared were particularly targeted to deprive the Eezham Tamils of their next generation leadership. Such acts were carried out with genocidal intent, according to the youth group, Phoenix – the Next Generation.

Similarly, the labelling of “Tamil Political Prisoners,” both internally and externally was also a shortcoming that misrepresents and dilutes the Tamil struggle for liberation.

Even though the actors within the global establishment are reluctant to identify the nature of the armed conflict that prevailed in the island as an “international armed conflict” and exhibit a systemic reluctance to accord the former LTTE members the status of “Prisoners of War”, the Tamil activists, politicians and advocacy groups should demand their PoW status recognised, ‘Phoenix’ argues. “It is crucial that a shift in dynamics occur within the extended Tamil community where we uphold that Tamil Political Prisoners are in fact PoWs,” a member of the group told TamilNet.

Phoenix campaign

Whilst Colombo had acknowledged captured JVP members as “political prisoners” to appease the Sinhalese community, captured Tamils are explicitly termed as “terrorists” whereby draconian terrorist laws and measures are implemented to further their genocidal incentives.

The labelling of Tamil POWs as such plays a crucial role in the perspective within which the issue is handled where the international dimensions have been seen to assume a dynamic aligned with that of Colombo – an aspect Tamil activist groups have failed to counter.

It is in the absence of clarity among the Tamils, that the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights between 2014 – 2018, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, went to the extent of calling former LTTE members in the custody of the genocidal Sri Lankan state as “security detainees”.

Such terminology implies and accommodates Colombo’s claims of terrorism and further extends the complicity of global hegemons in extending Colombo’s military “Counter-Insurgency” (COIN) campaign against the Tamils.

A statement made by Colombo’s Ambassador to Switzerland and Germany, Manori Umambuwe, as reported by Colombo media on 31 July 2020, called for the establishment of an anti-terrorism task force to particularly surveil the social media activities of Tamil youth across Europe.

“I am looking at how to build an idea of inclusive nationalism and promote the Sri Lankan identity, rather than Tamil, Muslim identity… We must develop different story lines that will have traction in Germany such as emphasis on sovereignty and territorial integrity. We must highlight that terrorism is very much alive with the LTTE, ISIS and others. The fight today is in cyberspace for example there was an Instagram campaign recently which ran the tag line – I am a Tamil and the genocide is a part of my identity. These things must be monitored and closely countered. You have to have a Counter terrorism Task Force on Cyberspace to monitor these campaigns in Europe and use Sri Lankan (Sinhala) youth as a front to counter these things.” – Manor Umambuwe

In that regard, Phoenix – the Next Generation members say they launched their social media initiative from within the very centres of Umambuwe’s line of sight.

“If a finger is laid upon the Tamil diaspora – be it through internal or external means – those involved will face a stronger and more poignant resistance than last time,” the youth said.

The youth’s initiative has humanised the profiles of select Tamils who were forcibly disappeared by the Sri Lankan state’s genocidal forces and explored the wide array of professional backgrounds from which they operated from.

Nitharsan, the coordinator of Puradsi Media – the media outlet of the youth group told TamilNet that, “such individuals would have fostered the reconstruction and resettlement of the Tamil state and were thus forcibly disappeared with genocidal intent. The deprivation of their legacy would be an extension of such genocidal initiatives and therefore we have launched this campaign to counter this void.”

The following profiles were presented by the youth during their social media campaign which was initiated on 16 August 2020 and completed on 30 August 2020 to correspond with the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances:

  1. Sinnathambi Mahalingam alias Illamparuthy – A member of the LTTE’s political wing who was forcibly disappeared at Vadduvaakal on 18 May 2009 with his wife and three children

  2. Thileepan – A member of the LTTE’s International Office, Thileepan was forcibly disappeared at Vadduvaakal on 18 May 2009

  3. Kokilakrishnan Paramanantham alias Kalaikoan Master – A member of the LTTE and head of the Lt. Col. Rajan Education Unit / Navam Arivukoodam who was forcibly disappeared between Ve’l’laa-mu’l’li-vaaykkaal and Vadduvaakal on 17 May 2009.

  4. Fr Francis – A Catholic priest who facilitated Tamil families to hand over of LTTE members in the final stage and was forcibly disappeared with them at Vadduvaakal on 18 May 2009

  5. Kirubananthan alias Baby Subramaniam / Ilankumaran – A senior member of the LTTE and head of the Tamil Eelam Education Department who was forcibly disappeared on 18 May 2009 at Vadduvaakal alongside his wife (Ratna – Political Wing) and their daughter, Arivumathy.

  6. Nagratnam Satsuthan alias Javan / Thamilanpan – A member of the LTTE and head of Voice of Tigers who was last seen at Ve’l’laa-mu’l’li-vaaykkaal on 17 May 2009 with his daughter, Ealilnila.

  7. Selvakumar Sutharsini alias Kalaimakal – A member of the LTTE who was in charge of the Centre for Women’s Development and Rehabilitation (CWDR) who was forcibly disappeared at Vadduvaakal on 18 May 2009 alongside her husband (Suman – 2nd in charge of the Forestry Department of Tamil Eelam) and their adopted daughter, Thanikaiselvi.

  8. Balakumaran – A senior member of the LTTE and one of the founders of EROS who was forcibly disappeared at Vadduvaakal on 17 May 2009 alongside his son, Sooryatheepan and his assistant, Mr. Aingaran. The three were pictured alive and together in SL army custody.

  9. Yogaratnam Jogi – A member of the LTTE who was in charge of the Research Centre on War Records who was forcibly disappeared at Vadduvaakal on 18 May 2009. He was also the former political chief of the LTTE who had presided over the handing over of LTTE arms in 1987 after the establishment of the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord.

  10. Irasiah Ilanthirayan alias Marshall – A member of the LTTE and their military spokesperson, who was forcibly disappeared at Vadduvaakal on 18 May 2009.

  11. Karikalan - A member of the LTTE and head of Tamil Eelam Economic Development Organisation (TEEDOR) who was forcibly disappeared at Vadduvaakal alongside his wife, Dr. Padmaloginy on 18 May 2009.

  12. Lawrence Thilakar – Project Coordinator of the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO), former head of the LTTE International Secretariat and the LTTE’s Central Committee who was forcibly disappeared at Vadduvaakal on 18 May 2009.

  13. Dr. Padmaloginy – A member of the LTTE’s Medical Wing who was forcibly disappeared at Vadduvaakal on 18 May 2009 alongside her husband, Karikalan.

  14. Puthuvai Rathnathurai – A member of the LTTE, poet and head of Arts and Cultural Division who was forcibly disappeared at Vadduvaakal on 18 May 2009.

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