Feature Article

Tamil activists resisted three sources of outside influence while drafting demands to UNHRC

[TamilNet, Monday, 18 January 2021, 23:44 GMT]
The joint demands formulated by the Tamil national political parties towards the United Nations make specific reference to genocide twice. The four-point document gains significance as Parliamentary Group Leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Mr R Sampanthan has endorsed it with his signature, said former Northern Provincial Council Minister Ms Ananthy Sasitharan. Mr M A Sumanthiran representing the TNA in the negotiations finally agreed to make the specific reference after TELO Parliamentarian Selvam Adaikalanathan seemingly insisted for it, she said. TELO is a party of the TNA with three parliamentary seats. In an explosive and lengthy comment to TamilNet, Sasitharan narrated how the foreign powers and NGO agenda-setters were attempting to influence the process from three fronts. She considered Dr Guruparan Kumaravadivel as the behind-the-scene drafter of the final document.



The first line of foreign influence was coming through the British Tamils Forum (BTF) jointly with some other North America based Tamil diaspora organisations. The BTF-led draft was praising the work of the “Core Group on Sri Lanka”. As influenced or instructed, it was only mentioning the crimes as “atrocity crimes” and named genocide as the third one, and that too within the parenthesis. The TNA discarded it probably due to repeated corrections. Ananthy was citing the comments that came from M A Sumanthiran in the Vanni meetings.

Without any draft or direct influence to the demands, another move came from Colombo-based Western-funded NGO led by Dr Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu and Bavani Fonseka, she said. It sought to influence the leading three alliance politicians, M A Sumanthiran, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam and C V Wigneswaran, by attending a Colombo joint meeting.

The third line seems to be the Tamil NGO operators, and civil society activists, who were engaged in activities depending on US-UK and Germany-based NGOs and the foreign state actors.

Sasitharan witnessed two civil society representatives, Rev Fr Ravichandran and Pon Singham, taking responsibility for the drafting process in the meetings led by V S Sivaharan. Both of them stood close to the line of the TNPF, which is led by Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam. They were also close to the Tamil Civil Society Forum (TCSF) and other outfits launched by Guruparan Kumaravadivel, who drafted the document. She characterised Mr Singham as an NGO operator.

However, a hard fight put up by Mr S.K. Shivajilingam, Mr Suresh Premachandran and Mr N. Srikantha in the alliance of the Justice C V Wigneswaran’s TMK confronted the attempt to dilute specific reference to international investigations and evidence gathering mechanism on the crime of genocide, Ms Ananthy said.

The approach and the language adopted in formulating the demands aligned to the edge and not to the core of Eezham Tamils’ position.

As earlier observed by TamilNet, main lacunae in the document were: regarding genocide as part of the 2009 war rather than the said war being part of a protracted genocide; the formulation of it being orientated towards addressing the already identified accountability issues rather than demanding justice for the Crime of Crimes i.e the protracted genocide; and the failure to reiterate the all-agreed fundamental Tamil demands as stipulated in the minimalistic Thimphu principles of 1985.

Despite the criticisms, the joint move by the parties is a direction-setter for global mobilization to address the crime genocide and other demands without delay. The Tamil diaspora groups that have been waylaid by the “Core Group on Sri Lanka” establishment to focus on accountability for “atrocity crimes” without specific reference to genocide, are now forced to toe the line in demanding international investigations on genocide.

Ananthy is a survivor of the genocidal war in Vanni, who is still searching for her husband Elilian, a political leader of the LTTE, who was subjected to enforced disappearance at the hands of occupying SL military in Vanni in May 2009.

A mother of two, she entered Tamil national politics in 2013 and now heads a party in the political alliance of Justice Wigneswaran.

She also criticised Wigneswaran for failing to include all the involved parties as explicit signatories to the final document in addition to the leaders that represent the three Tamil national alliances.

Dr Guruparan Kumaravadivel is currently a research visitor at Bonavero Institute for Human Rights, which comes under the Faculty of Law at the University of Oxford.


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