The Sunday Leader

The Diaspora Factor

  • Exclusive Interview With ‘Prime Minister’ Of Tamil Diaspora’s ‘Transnational Government’

By Maryam Azwer

Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran

Almost two years since the end of Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict, the government claims that much is being done to establish peace and development in the country, particularly in the North and the East. Among the efforts, the state says, is to build a mutually beneficial relationship with the international Tamil community.
Despite the government having expressed optimism with regard to the success of this initiative, recent diaspora actions have implied otherwise – including lawsuits filed against both President Rajapaksa, and Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Palitha Kohona.
In an email interview with The Sunday Leader, Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran, ‘Prime Minister’ of the ‘Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam’ (TGTE), that was formed in May last year, shares his views on this issue, as well as other diaspora-related concerns that have arisen in recent months.

Q: What is the present role of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam?
The exclusionary policies of the Sinhala leaders and the pervasive and entrenched racism in the country resulted in denial of effective participation by the Tamil Nation in the political process of the island of Sri Lanka.  The continued marginalisation of Tamils coupled with brutal repression clearly established that only in an independent state can Tamils live as free people and with dignity.  Tamils expressed this wish clearly in the 1977 general elections.  This expression of Tamils’ determination was demonstrated through a democratic exercise conducted by the Government of Sri Lanka.  It should be noted that this peaceful expression to call for an independent state came long before the armed struggle actively started.  The genocide in Mulliavaikkal has served to strengthen the rationale for the establishment of an independent sovereign state as a measure for self preservation.
Since there was no political space for Tamils to articulate their political aspirations, their nonviolent struggle had overtime transformed itself into an armed struggle in the absence of national and international mechanisms to resolve national conflicts.  The de facto state of Tamil Eelam emerging through this phase provided the political space for Tamils.  With the destruction of the de facto state and the resultant political space, the situation has reverted to status quo ante.  Given the above, the pragmatic necessity and the moral imperative was to create a political space outside the island of Sri Lanka.
The idea of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) was conceived under the above circumstances.  The concept was given a political formulation by the Advisory Committee of the TGTE comprising of Tamil and non -Tamil intellectuals.  Country working groups were formed; elections were held in 12 countries; a Constituent Assembly was formed; a Constitution was drafted, debated and ratified and the government was formed.
The TGTE’s role is to carry on the Tamil struggle through democratic and diplomatic means in the post-Mullivaikkal era.

Q: The European Union has re-listed the LTTE as a terrorist organisation. What is the TGTE’s response to this?
After the massacre of tens of thousands of Tamils in Mulliavaikkal, the Tamils perceive the European Union’s re-listing of the LTTE as an act of injustice towards them.  It also raises a question as to whether the international community has understood the real situation, the roots of the conflict.  Tamil people have also approached us to take measures rectifying this.
I was involved as a litigator in the designation challenge and the constitutional challenge.  The courts have stated that in these matters they simply defer to the political branches.  When law is used for political purpose it not only undermines the integrity of the rule of law but also has a corrosive effect on the constitutional freedom enjoyed by the citizens of these countries.
We cannot resist asking the EU to re-evaluate the purpose of this political exercise.  What the European countries need to do now is to ask themselves the question, “Did our actions in the past stop the killing of 60,000 Tamils? Did our actions in the past bring a fair and just settlement to the Tamil National question? If not, why not? If something went wrong, what is it, where did it and how?”  It would be a pity if those who preach the virtue of everyone moving forwards and forgetting the past should now have to wallow in the past themselves.
I also would like to mention that the re-listing of the LTTE has no effect whatsoever on the TGTE’s activities.

Q: What do you have to say about the various media reports that have referred to you as Prabhakaran’s ‘successor’?
The Tamil National leader Mr. Pirapaharan has a unique and larger than life role in the Tamil liberation struggle.
I have been elected by the people to serve in the TGTE Assembly and then elected to serve as Prime Minister.  I am a servant of the people and as such will do all that I can to achieve an independent and sovereign state of Tamil Eelam through the means entrusted to me.

Q: There have been reports of a certain faction of the TGTE, allegedly led by Norway based MP Perinpanayagam Sivaparan, having challenged your position as the self-appointed Prime Minister of the TGTE. What do you have to say about this?
TGTE is a democratic body. Members were elected through internationally accepted standards that guaranteed transparent, free and fair elections. Election Commissioners were of high calibre, known for impartiality and fairness. For example, the former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark served as the head of the Election Commission in the United States for the TGTE elections. The election campaign was vibrant and on election day tens of thousands lined up for hours to vote. Numerous international election monitors observed the elections and certified its fairness. Several media outlets around the world also covered this election.
The members of the TGTE Parliament adopted a constitution and designated the post of prime minister, among others.  I was elected as the Prime Minister.
Those who were elected through this democratic exercise have no policy differences among us. Everyone is sincerely and actively committed to secure an independent Tamil Eelam through peaceful, transparent, nonviolent and diplomatic means. The elected members represent the wishes of the Tamils around the world and are aware of the enormous responsibility placed on them, especially after the massacre of 60,000 Tamils in the final months of the war.
The events surrounding the TGTE are pertaining to procedures which are normal and inherent in a democratic process.  However we are confident that none of these will in anyway hamper or dilute the TGTE’s course of actions towards the establishment of an independent state.

Q: At the recent United Nations Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva, Sri Lankan Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe claimed that the LTTE’s international network is active and involved in ‘criminal activities.’ What is your response to this?
In the face of an undulating onslaught by Amnesty International, the International Crisis Group and all their allies who have submitted withering briefs about the abysmal failures of the Sri Lankan government, its criminal past and the sham called LLRC, the GOSL is back to its old tactic of trying to divert attention by resorting to ad hominem attacks.  However, since compelling evidence is coming to light, the GOSL will not succeed in this game.
There are several activities happening at the UN. The report on Sri Lanka’s war crimes compiled by the panel appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon will be handed over this month. We will urge the report to be made public and be sent to UN Human Rights Council and the UN Security Council. Recent actions by these two UN institutions on Libya point to what is in store for Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan government will not escape for the killing of over 60,000 Tamil civilians in Wanni.

Q: The Government of Sri Lanka says it welcomes Tamil diaspora support to establish normalcy in and develop the North and the East. Government Spokesperson Keheliya Rambukwella also told this newspaper recently that the GOSL was confident of receiving such support. The TNA, however, says that there is too little freedom for diaspora organisations to carry out their work here. What is your opinion on this – are leaders of the diaspora willing to visit Sri Lanka to lend this kind of support?
Presently there is no normalcy in the North and East.  People are living in fear under military occupation.  Murder, torture, rape, forced disappearances, forced prostitution are prevalent.  The military occupation is entrenching even while the GOSL claims that it has won the war.  Like in Myanmar, Pakistan and the Middle East, the Sri Lankan army is now actively engaging in entrepreneurial activities.  These attempts to be self sufficient demonstrate the GOSL’s intention of permanent military occupation of the North and East.  We do not believe development can take place under military occupation.
Moreover, under the guise of development, the GOSL is engaging in colonization.
Also it should be pointed out that while the government is speaking about development, their actions tell a different story.  The government has tight control of all organisations and aid flowing into the North and East.
This is problematic because it curtails the freedom of aid organisations to spend money on projects it prioritises and forces aid to be spent on government’s priorities.  Also problematic is the high level of corruption in the government.  Transparency International scored Sri Lanka a 3.2 (it scores countries on a scale from 10 (very clean) to 0 (highly corrupt) indicating that much of the aid money sent to Sri Lanka may not reach its intended recipients.
Above all, we would like to point out that without political freedom, without the decision making authority, development cannot take place.  As Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen observed, “Freedom is both the primary end and the principal means of development.”
Thus for any kind of meaningful development, the military has to be withdrawn, and stakeholders should have the decision making authority.

Q: How much does the Sri Lankan Tamil community stand to benefit from Tamil diaspora efforts?
As stated earlier, the diaspora is an integrated part of the Tamil Nation.  The Tamils living in the island and outside are one entity.  As long as the Tamils living in the island do not have the political space to fully articulate their political aspirations, the diaspora living around the world in liberal democratic countries have to undertake that task.  The people in the homeland and their political leaders have to struggle on an everyday basis simply to ensure the physical survival of the Tamil Nation, the inherent right to their homeland, the betterment of the people’s social and economic welfare and their basic right to a secure life.
These struggles are essential for the very existence and survival of our nation in the island of Sri Lanka and have to be undertaken in every little space available for expressing them.  We believe our campaign in the international arena will also result in the expansion of the political space inside the island.  We believe that the days are not far when both the campaign of the Tamils inside and outside of the island of Sri Lanka will be in synch towards the establishment of a free and independent state of our own.

37 Comments for “The Diaspora Factor”

  1. Shanthan Thirukumar

    Rudrakumar belongs to the lunatic fringe. He need to smell coffee and know reality. 98% in the diaspora was not involved in the electing of these clowns. He has no mandate to speak on behalf of Tamils. You are wasting time and space interviewing this deluded crook.

    • Rajah

      The election was open to all of the Tamil Diaspora. No one was barred and no fraud was committed like Rajapaksa’s win over Fonseka. If 98% of the tamil diaspora did not vote, that’s their choice. The 2% that did vote counts – basic democracy. If you don’t exercise your franchise, that’s your choice. BTW, where did you get the 98% figure from? The Vaddukodai resolution re-affirmation vote was conducted in all diaspora communities after the war and each country posted a 60%+ participation of the tamil diaspora with 99% voting for a separate state. Perhaps you need to wake up and smell the coffee.

    • yaksha Deva

      Well said.
      Neocolonialism is a fact.
      This guy is an instrument of that.
      No westerner loves anything but Money and power.

      He truly is more than deusional . It is delsons of graduer.
      Psychiatric diagnosis would be Mania.

    • LankaLiar

      Its look like you can do pure Lanka Talk – no sense but lot of rhetoric.
      If Rudrakumar belongs to the lunatic fringe you are in the centre of that . He speaks and people listen so they know how to use the time. Surely you are not wasting time because you will benefit from the time you spend on this. A cheque is on the way from the SLTE for your services. Keep doing your services and profit handsomely
      By the way R Pakes birthday is coming I am sure you will be fasting

    • Sunthar

      Place a mirror in front! Hi Hi hii

  2. P.L.J.B.palipana

    Hi! Hon.Prime Minister; The majority of Tamils & Muslims are living out side the Northern & Eastern Provinces. Compare The territorial area of SriLanka with the area of province of Ontario, Canada. SL is a very tiny island and how you could claim a seperate STATE for only Tamils. Practically the Nation is a Mix of Sinhala+Tamil+Muslim+Burgher for centuries. I personally believe that their is a language barrier only as a reason to divide that very small island. There should be a practical holistic approach to solve this problem scientifically.

    • Rajah

      Sri-Lanka recognizes the separate ethnic state of Israel which is smaller than Tamil Eelam and the majority of Jews around the world live outside of Israel. Can you ask the Hon Rajapakse to explain his recognition of Israel please.

    • yaksha Deva

      He should go to India . If he is so tamil. For these guys Muthia Muralitharan is not tamil, Lakshman Kadirgamar is not tamil, non of estate workers are not tamil.
      Tamils of tamilnadu are not tamil.
      No point in trying to rehabilitate these non assertive looneys.
      I blame this news paper for providing them oppotunities to propagate trash.
      This news paper thinks that they can hold Srilanka to much higher and rigurous standrads than they hold their “mother land ” of that stinking kingdom( racist UK)

    • LankaLiar

      The majority are living out side because they could not live inside.
      Burghers who could, have left for other countries long ago, Muslims have separate parties to represent them so are the Tamils. Holistic or any other approach has to come from the people in power who are Sinhalease. Dont ask the Tamiils and Muslims and the remaining Burghers to solve Sri Lankan problems. You started with Sinhala Only, Buddist only now what you are left with is Rajapakse only.
      The solution is simple treat everyone equally honestly and justly – which is bloody dam difficult for the Sinhalease. That is the core of the problem – address is if you can or let the other communities find their own way of living.

    • Anaga

      The majority of the Tamils are living outside the northern/eastern province-Why? Tamils were forced to move to other places during the last 30 years because of indiscriminate bombing. Previously there were no development in the north and east by the government except for a cement factory and chemical factory in the north and a paper factory in the east. These were also done half heartedly with no positive improvements. KKS harbour was to be developed. but only a token vote was passed. even a passport office was started recently with no teeth. No wonder people from the north /east occupied the south.

  3. Dorothy

    Does all this mean that the citizens of this Transnational government keep away from the shores of Srilanka and function within the scope of this ‘government ‘ that is working against the established Government of Srilanka . All this rhetoric and objectives should be studied by the diaspora Tamils and decisions made openly . the youth may have no affinity to the country they left behind but it is the duty of the adults to educate them as to the adverse effects of such a move , for one cannot have the cake and eat it !.

    • yaksha Deva

      These guys are extremely vulnerable set of people who live in imaginary worlds. Tigers held Srilanka hostage for 30 years. They initially were bankrolled by Doctors who worked long hours and who were getting too obese . They had no self esteem. So they doanted big bucks to this imaginary project .
      LTTE is no more but the need of these self esteem less “rich” is still there.
      They are easily recruited by thugs.

    • LankaLiar

      You had your cake and you know the state of the cake now. You neither kept it not eat it. It is in a pathetic state even horrible to look at . Give them their cake and let them do what they want. Perhaps they will make it better larger and sweeter; they will even share a piece with you when you go hungry.

  4. Martin Thomas

    I bet with in five years our dreams will come true. We will see a birth of Tamil Eelam before that. India will change, EU will change so do America and rest of the world.

  5. Don’t mess with this fellow. He is not an ordinary cookie. He is a very learned gentleman, polished and sophisticated in international law, civilized in his mannerisms, charismatic, charming and a down to earth human being. Unlike the uncouth opposition, Rudhra is a Harvard University Scholar. Don’t let his young age fool you. If you were to learn more about him, you should have been there when the late Anton Balasingham, one the best political scientists and strategists of our time, described Rudhra as “the best.”
    Ruthdra has the unconditional support of the diaspora — no question about that.
    He is also not without opposition and critiques within the diaspora community. Opposition is vital to the democratic process which Ruthdra understands the most.
    The diaspora is proud of Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran.

    • yaksha Deva

      Most of you who live here in the USA and Canda may have gone to Harvard ,that doesn’t mean a lot.
      Most of these guys are at the service of their western masters.
      We have hundreds of Srilankans who are graduates of Harvard.
      I am from Yale but, I am my own person.
      Most tamils who live in the USA and Canda have no self esteem.
      They lick white mans boots.
      Then are easily used by them.
      Anton Balsigham even married a junkie- who distributed cyanide to tamil girls.
      Be a Srilankan, Be proud of your heritage .Join us in building Srilanka .
      Ask him to live like a second class citizen and mind his own business.
      Tamil candians and Americans have sad lives. I know and have treated hundreds of drug addicted children of tamils.
      Give up this nonsense eelam garbage . Live in peace with us.

    • Tamil

      Well said Aadhi!

  6. dear sinhala readers,

    tamil eelam belongs to tamils we lost our soverignty to sinhalese

    when ceylon got independence from the british.

    sinhalese don’t need to cry foul , because it doesn’t belong to them !

    victory to tamils and defeat to sinhala chavanisim racisim duplicity !

  7. Ray

    Let’s do some calculations here.
    One so called Tamil wrote 98% of the diaspora Tamils didn’t vote.
    In Canada 31,000 voted on May/2010 TGTE elections.
    That would mean 2% of the Tamils who voted = 31,000
    Therefore, total Tamils eligible to vote = (31,000/0.02) = 1,550,000
    From where did he get this number that there are over 1.5 million Tamils living in Canada who are over 18 years of age?

  8. yaksha Deva

    Your interviewing this guy is sickening. This puppets should be left alone.
    LTTE has found new sponsors in the West.
    Almost all Tamils who left Srilanka due To LTTE atrocities to India have come back To SRiLanka.
    This fat man – is selected and blessed by Blake is under his command.
    The diaspora tamils are a bunch of people who drank from the river Srilanka and they crap into the same river , worse yet they sing praises to the mighty ocean.
    Ignore these guys.
    How much did you get to publish this trash.
    Whose directive was that?. CIA?.

  9. yaksha Deva

    Srilanka provided absolutely free education to all.
    Diaspora tamils obtained everything they can get from Srilanka .
    Come to the West , live like second class citizens.
    They have misserable family lives even bad health, Most are obese ,have a higher incedence of cancers among them.
    Toronto tiger sympathizers are notorious for their lawless behaviors.
    In The USA ,these guys have no selfesteem so they can easily be manipulated by their western masters.
    West is busy planning to under mine China and even India.
    LTTE and off shoots of LTTE is groomed and used by these elements.
    I object to your providing a voice to these non assertive folks .
    This is very irresponsible of you. No British news paper will publish anything against their national security,.
    In the USA nobody will engage in this kind of behavior.
    You english speaking Srilankans live in fairy land where you think that westerners are so gentlemenly .You hold our nation to much higher and rigorous standards than you hold your “masters” .
    However much you try you can never be an equal to a white westerner.
    Instead of ignoring this guy ,you giving publicity to him is a sick thing.

  10. yaksha Deva

    Maryam: I think you are muslim by your name. Most of you muslims in Srilanka speak tamil.
    But your eelam brother doesn’t care for you.
    LTTE chased away most of you . Why do you provide lip service to this looney.
    Get a life.
    ( regardless of you pubishing this comment or not)
    Write something with substance.
    Who pays you to write garbage like this.

  11. sri

    He should drop the links to the LTTE of old and fight for the rights and security of Tamil people in their homelands from which they have been displaced by state terror, violence and blatant acts of discrimination through linguistic, ethnic and religious governance for more than 6 decades and finally throrugh commission of overt war crimes which makes Gaddfafi’s crimes against his own citizens pale into insignificance. For starters, he should take up the question of enlisting the SL state as a “terrrorist state” with the EU by its blatant acts aginst civilians under cover of Emergency Rule without Rule of Law and Justice.

  12. Yaksha Deva

    Island is a non patriotic spin mill bankrolled by imperialist Stinking racist kingdom, Who still is in the business of divide an conquer.
    This Kumar is no prince. He is a puppet. groomed by the west.
    Next plan is to invade Srilanka.
    Don’t play into their hands.
    They are devils. BBC is not a truth factory , You seems to be a spin mill in my observation.

  13. Sam Kathir

    Those who desire genuine peace in Sri Lanka must pay attention. Given the 60+ year history of the Tamil resistance to the majority domination of the island polity, calling Rudrakumaran the ‘lunatic fringe’ is unhelpful. Several Tamil leaders have been called such names in this long history, and marginalising them in the 50s, 60s and the 70s is what led to the terrible 80s and 90s to 2009. I would urge those who desire a genuine solution, based on freedom, democracy and equality, to engage him, instead of dismissing his views.

  14. R Thangavelu

    Rudra is polished and sophisticated scholar. Addhi must be drunk! Dr Prof Balasingham was also the best scholar and we can see the plight of the Tamils now. Didn’t Bush also study at Harvard? Bush thought Africa was a country not a continent!!!

    If Aadhi thinks Rudra is polished than he is mental.

  15. Kanaga Chandra

    We the tamil people of Srilanka must joined together and support Rudran. We should give him 100% support. All Tamils should unite and fight for our rights.
    I am sure very soon we will achieve our goal, which is TAMIL EELAM.

    • wije

      Visuvanathan is certainly a delusional fellow. His frontal lobe may be functional and could have helped him to get to Harvard University. But his parietal lobe totally messed up. He needs to understand that his struggle will only pull all nations in Sri Lanka to dark ages. Learn to live with all people or just go to India where you came from.

  16. kannathasan

    The free Tamil Eellam will arise in couple of years. We are Tamils around the world will support TGTE and Hon. Prime Minister Ruthara Kumaran. I think shingalish scared with the TGTE presure and power in global politic. Let us be strong nad united for free Tamil Eellam. We cannot stop the useless barking dog and dont bother them. Our focus and goal is free Tamil Eellam.

  17. Rasik

    This man is a coward. He works for some power. Tamils ​​know about this and nobody ​​have faith on him.

  18. The LTTE was eradicated but ethnic problem is not finished.It is continuing since 1950′s.The succersive Singhala chauvanist GoSL discreminate the Tamils who are majority population in the region of north & east provinces.The IPKF occupied the provinces under the Indo-Lanka accord but the dream of Tamils is not achieved.The GoSL should accept the VADDUKKODDAI RESOLUTION to solve the ethnic conflict.

  19. christy thevanesan

    the tamils ,who lives in europe and other countries aer wishing a seperate tamilhomeland. mr.urithirakumar is a person who unite the whole tamils to this goal. as a lawyer. the europiens are very dangerous racists. they dont like the other colour people, therefore our strugle is not interesting for them
    if they have interest in lybia ,why they didnot like to stop the war in srilanka?
    THE srilankan killed their owen tamilpeople about 40,000. what the nato and the europien did, nothing, because they are racists nd nazis.
    we the tamils strugle and fight for our right on ower owen.

  20. Jeyasankar

    Who elect Rudrakumaran as their prime minister.
    Only 87 elected members attends the last sitting. 47 of them walkout from the sitting because of Rudrakumar’s dictatorship and his puppets attriocities. Only 40 voted for the constitution of the TGTE, and the same number elect him as prime minister. This number is not even simple majority.
    The walkout members now formed ‘TGTE – democrats’, and challenging his leadership. Rudrakumaran is the root cause for the Tiger’s Mullivaykkal Defeat. Please read the article in the website of march 25/2011, for more details.

  21. raguvaran

    Don’t wast the space for unwanted things.

  22. Malin Abeyatunge

    First and foremost, I blame the interviewer in his introduction to give currency to Rudrakumaran’s self appointed prime minister of a non-existent Government called TGTE. This self appointed lunatic is nothing but a ghost of Prahakran. He always mentions about 60000 Tamil civilians killed covering the actual fact whatever the number is that they were LTTE terrorists fighting for Prabhakaran and not ordinary Tamil civilians. He has conveniently evaded the fact there were almost 300000 Tamil civilians fled from the LTTE clutches to the Government areas for their safety.
    Recently I met a TNA MP and he said that TNA has nothing to do with the TGTE and that TNA doesn’t recognise it. I don’t know who is telling the truth. Whatever is is, the ultimate objective TGTE to live the rest of their lives with the $300 million in the kitty .mois

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